Answers provided at Senate Estimates reveal that the Coalition has walked away from evidence-based decision-making through its decision to abolish the State of Australian Cities report.
The annual report is intended to produce comprehensive analysis of statistics and trends about the demographic and planning challenges facing major Australian cities.
Despite this Estimates heard it would no longer be published.
This follows more than three years of obfuscation about the future of the State of Australian Cities report.
During this time only one report was publicly released, a joint 2014-15 edition, which was half the size of the reports issued under Labor.
It was downloaded three million times when published by the former Labor Government, and was heralded as a tremendous success and great resource by industry and policy experts.
This decision to dump the report is only one in a string of poor policy decisions when it comes to urban policy.
Upon its election the Coalition abolished the Major Cities Unit, disbanded the Urban Policy Forum, marginalised Infrastructure Australia and failed to initiate a single new public transport project.
At a time when urban congestion is acting as a handbrake on our nation’s economy, housing costs have hit record highs and climate change is creating serious consequences for our cities, the Government should be using evidence to inform its decision-making, not walking away from it.
A senior bureaucrat has confirmed the Turnbull Government is ripping off Victorians, with the state receiving a paltry 7.7 per cent of the Commonwealth’s infrastructure budget despite being home to 25 per cent of the Australian population.
At a Senate Budget Estimates committee last night Mark Thomann, from the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, said the Commonwealth would invest $2.045 billion on Victorian infrastructure between 2016-17 and 2019-20 out of a national program worth $26.5 billion.
Asked for a percentage breakdown, Mr Thomann said: “Do the mental arithmetic? I can take out my phone and get out the calculator and do that … the answer is 7.7 per cent.’’
The Secretary of the Department, Mike Mrdak, then agreed that Victoria had a high rate of population growth and was “facing significant infrastructure pressures’’.
Confirmation of the Victorian rip-off underscores the pettiness of the Turnbull Government, which is punishing the people of Victoria for having the temerity to elect the Andrews Labor Government.
When the Coalition took office in 2013 it inherited an infrastructure budget that included Commonwealth support for the Melbourne Metro public transport project.
It cancelled that allocation and transferred it to the dud East-West Link toll road, which would have returned only 45 cents in economic benefit for every dollar invested and had to be cancelled.
Since then the Coalition has continued to play petty politics, leaving Victoria’s Andrews Labor Government to fund the Metro and reducing Victoria’s share of investment.
Victorians pay their fair share of taxes. They deserve a return from the Commonwealth.
Instead, Malcolm Turnbull is ripping them off, even as experts including Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe call for increased infrastructure investment to drive economic activity and jobs growth.
Mr Turnbull needs to stop taking selfies on trains and actually invest in trains.
A senior Commonwealth bureaucrat has confirmed no planning has been conducted about how the proposed Perth Freight Link would deliver on its stated purpose of taking traffic to the Fremantle Port.
Despite both the State and Federal Governments committing billions of dollars in funding for this dud project, current plans have the proposed toll road stopping 3km before the port.
At a Senate Budget Estimates committee hearing in Canberra this morning Department of Infrastrucutre and Regional Development official Roland Pittar confirmed his department had seen no proposal concerning how this 3km gap would be bridged via Stage III of the project.
The admission highlights the absence of serious planning for the Perth Freight Link, which the Federal Government announced out of the blue in its 2014 Budget.
At the time, even the Barnett Government was unable to produce any plan worthy of public scrutiny.
After taking office in 2013, the Federal Coalition scrapped $500 million allocated for public transport projects in Perth. Labor would support the Perth METRONET rail project, which would reduce the traffic congestion that is eroding the quality of life of Perth residents and acting as a hand brake on productivity and jobs growth in WA.
Australia needs increased infrastructure investment to boost economic activity and lift economic productivity.
But responsible infrastructure investment requires careful planning, with decisions made on the basis of demonstrated economic benefit.
Making it up as you go along is not good enough.
The Turnbull Government has not even finalised the proposed route for their Inland Rail Link between Brisbane and Melbourne despite having promised to have commenced construction by August of last year.
In its 2013 election campaign, the Coalition vowed it would begin construction of this critical freight line through Australia’s eastern states by August, 2016.
But at Senate Budget Estimates Committee hearings in Canberra today, Australian Rail Track Corporation CEO John Fullerton, whose organisation is delivering the project, said no land had been acquired and the alignment had not been finalised.
This is yet another example of the Turnbull Government’s inability to achieve progress on major infrastructure projects.
The former Labor Government invested $600 million on existing railway lines that will form a part of Inland Rail and left a further $300 million in the Budget to take the project forward.
Four years later, not an additional sleeper has been laid.
That is despite the Government campaigning on delivering this project in the 2013 election and again in last year’s federal poll.
This is not good enough.
At a time of transition away from the investment stage of the mining boom, the Government should be increasing investment to maintain economic activity and jobs growth in the short term and to boost national economic productivity over the long term.
But infrastructure investment has tumbled since 2013, with total public sector infrastructure investment down 20 per cent in the Coalition’s first two years in office.
Bureau of Statistics data released last month show the value of work conducted for the public sector has been lower in each of the 12 quarters presided over by the Coalition Government than in any of the 21 quarters under the Labor Government after its first Budget in 2008.
It’s time for the Turnbull Government to stop talking about Inland Rail and start delivering on its election commitments.
Reserve Bank of Australia governor Dr Philip Lowe has confirmed today the importance of conducting cost-benefit analysis when considering the viability of major infrastructure projects.
Addressing the House Economics Committee in Sydney, Dr Lowe made clear his preference for infrastructure projects to be the subject of proper cost-benefit analysis before they receive Federal Government funding.
When asked about the need for a cost benefit analysis in making decisions regarding infrastructure projects, Dr Lowe told the Committee:
“People can dream up fabulous ideas for infrastructure and they sound great but if we’re going to put public or private money behind them there needs to be a strong business case with a cost benefit analysis underpinning that.”
A requirement for cost-benefit analysis has been a significant point of difference between the major parties policy on large scale infrastructure projects in Australia, with the Liberal Government continuing to blindly invest in multi-billion projects without evidence as to their viability.
By contrast Labor remains committed to returning the independent Infrastructure Australia to the centre of decision-making around nation building and to ensure that major projects receive proper cost-benefit consideration before committing taxpayer money to the most viable projects.
Labor calls on the Government to heed the comments of the Reserve Bank governor and to abandon its cavalier approach to infrastructure funding that has already seen colossal blow-outs and major mistakes on projects such as Melbourne’s East-West Link, the Perth Freight Link and Sydney’s WestConnex.
The Coalition’s failure to release a national policy for tourism is costing the Northern Territory, with the latest State of the Industry report revealing that international visitor numbers are down.
In the year 2015-16, international visitation increased in every state and territory, except for the Northern Territory, which saw a 2.9 per cent decrease.
The Coalition has consistently failed to give tourism the prominence it needs within its policy agenda.
Tourism employs more than one million Australians directly and indirectly and has recently overtaken coal to become one of our largest exports.
Deloitte has identified tourism as one of five super growth sectors for the nation. Last year international visitor numbers reached 7.2 million, which is a record high.
With visitor numbers to Australia expected to increase in coming years, the Coalition must invest appropriately to ensure all states and territories benefit from this growth.
During the election Labor committed to investing $1 billion from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility to a Northern Australia Tourism Infrastructure Fund. Labor understands that by investing in tourism we grow both job opportunities and the local economies of communities all around Australia.
Indeed, tonight’s Qantas Australian Tourism Awards, held for the first time in Darwin, will showcase the excellence and hard work of tourism operators from around the nation.
It is an important opportunity to recognise the important contribution the tourism sector makes, not just to our economy, but to the vibrancy of our cities and regions.
The efficiency of Australia’s ports is critical to our efforts to broaden Australia’s sources of economic and jobs growth in the wake of the end of the investment stage of the mining boom.
At a time of economic transition, we must ensure that our railways, roads and ports have sufficient capacity to support non-mining sectors, particularly in regional areas.
Businesses crave logistical certainty.
That’s why 2017 is the right time to lift investment in transport infrastructure, a point made repeatedly by business leaders and economists including Reserve Bank chairman Philip Lowe and his predecessor, Glenn Stevens.
We could start by getting on with the long-proposed Inland Rail project linking Brisbane and Melbourne, which would significantly boost capacity through our nation’s eastern agricultural heartland.
The former Labor Government invested $600 million improving those parts of the existing lines that would form part of Inland Rail and left $300 million in the Budget for further work.
But since 2013, not a single sleeper has been laid.
That’s not good enough.
In NSW we need to increase the capacity of the Port Botany by completing the duplication of the Port Botany Rail Line as well as the Maldon-Dombarton rail link, which would connect Port Kembla and south-west Sydney.
But as important as it is to lift investment, that investment must meet long-term strategic imperatives. If the wrong projects are funded, it will divert funds from productivity boosting projects.
The Perth Freight Link was announced in its 2014 Budget, without the benefit of a detailed plan or any cost-benefit analysis into the project.
While the stated aim of this project is to take trucks to the Port of Fremantle, planning has been so chaotic that on the current design, the road would stop 3km short of the port.
That’s not good enough either.
But the broader strategic issue is that the Port of Fremantle will reach full capacity within just a few years.
Rather than building the Freight Link, we should focus on port capacity in the long term.
It makes more sense to focus on the development of the Outer Harbour proposal, along with investment in public transport in Perth to take cars off the roads and deliver productivity gains across the entire economy.
Strategic planning is critical.
Last November, in his annual address to Parliament on infrastructure, the Prime Minister announced a plan to develop a strategy to increase the productivity and efficiency of Australia’s freight supply chain.
This is unnecessary. The work has already been done.
Under the former Federal Labor Government, Infrastructure Australia and the National Transport Commission were tasked with consulting with industry, as well as the states and territories, to produce the National Ports Strategy and the National Land Freight Strategy.
Together with the creation of national regulators, historic shipping reforms and Labor’s Government’s record infrastructure budget, these strategies provided a strong foundation for rising productivity and faster economic growth.
In the globalised world of the 21st Century, the prices consumers pay and the health of businesses more depends than ever on having better, less congested roads, faster, more reliable railways and modern, efficient sea and air ports.
The National Ports Strategy, produced in January, 2011, promotes better long term planning on the waterfront, with operators required to publish 15 to 30 year master plans detailing expected growth at their ports and the facilities required to handle that growth.
It also streamlined environmental approval processes and established protocols for better planning around ports, with state and local planning authorities required to implement “buffer” strategies to prevent encroachment on the ports as well as road and rail corridors.
The National Land Freight Strategy set out principles for greater focus on an integrated transport system designed to move goods into and out of major ports and around our country quickly, reliably and at lowest cost.
These strategies provide a clear framework for moving forward.
Anthony Albanese is the opposition spokesman for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development.
This piece appeared in the Australian newspaper today.
Employment opportunities at the Western Sydney Airport hold so much potential that they demand genuine and intense community engagement.
Our task is to ensure that as many of the new jobs as possible are filled by people from Western Sydney and that those jobs include training components that deliver skills they can use for the rest of their working lives. It’s not just jobs building the airport; it is jobs building the road and rail infrastructure and then ongoing jobs created by the airport as a catalyst. These jobs should have a training component providing transferable skills for local young people and re-skilling opportunities for mature age workers.
We need to collaborate on a jobs and skills plan that provides a skilled workforce capable of contributing not just to the airport, but to future projects. This effort should engage the entire community including councils, business groups, schools and universities, TAFE, unions and others.
The airport project should result in hundreds of young people from Western Sydney being engaged on the construction site as apprentices.
Labor leader Bill Shorten pointed the way, committing a future Labor government to ensuring 10 per cent of the workforce on Commonwealth funded infrastructure projects should be apprentices. The Western Sydney Airport is the perfect opportunity.
Schools and TAFEs in Western Sydney must be equipped to prepare today’s young people for the apprenticeship opportunities that beckon.
Likewise, we must think now about what industries have potential to flourish once the airport begins operations and collaborate with TAFE colleges and the University of Western Sydney to encourage them to focus more heavily on those skills.
On Tuesday I spent time with western suburbs-based company Celestino and Penrith mayor John Thain and his team to discuss the 2500 hectare Sydney Science Park in Luddenham.
This is an exciting development which is encouraged by the airport that will provide 12,000 jobs for the region in innovation, education and research. It will include 3400 dwellings on site. A deal has already been done with Catholic education to provide for Australia’s first K-12 STEM school in the country, which will accommodate 2000 students.
The Sydney Science Park exemplifies the multitude of business opportunities associated with the airport.
Anthony Albanese is the opposition spokesman for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development.
This piece is an extract from a speech to yesterday’s Western Sydney Aerotropolis Summit. It was first published in today’s edition of The Daily Telegraph.
GETTING THE PLANNING RIGHT FOR THE WESTERN SYDNEY AIRPORT
It’s great to be here today to see the level of interest in the development of the Western Sydney Airport at Badgerys Creek.
It’s has taken decades to achieve the political bipartisanship necessary to get this important project under way.
That’s a credit to people on both sides of politics.
Bipartisanship has cleared the way for governments, councils, businesses and communities to contemplate the massive economic opportunities that come with the construction of an airport.
That’s why today is so important.
When it comes to the Western Sydney Airport, we must get the planning right.
It is critical to the national economy.
As the 2012 joint study into Sydney’s aviation needs found, Sydney Airport is constrained by its land mass.
It is one half and one third of the size of the Melbourne and Brisbane airports respectively.
Sydney Airport is the nation’s busiest airport in terms of passenger movements yet it sits on the smallest land area for a major airport. Indeed, the Badgerys’ Creek site is almost twice the size of KSA.
Four out of 10 aircraft that travel in this country pass through Sydney Airport, so a delay at Kingsford Smith has huge knock-on effects across the nation.
When KSA sneezes, the rest of the nation catches the flu.
The Western Sydney Airport will offer great new options for travellers and airlines, while boosting tourism.
But if we get the planning right, the airport will provide unprecedented opportunities for airlines and aviation-related companies to expand in the vicinity of Badgerys Creek.
That means jobs – high value jobs for the people of Western Sydney, an area that has been crying out for new employment opportunities.
This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
The task ahead is not just to build a runway and an aircraft terminal.
That’s only half the job.
We must extract maximum community benefit from this project by making it a catalyst for development of thousands of jobs across a range of industries.
We need to create an aviation precinct so successful that it transforms the entire region.
We must consider the Badgerys Creek site not as Sydney’s second airport, but as the airport for Western Sydney.
We want the Western Sydney Airport to be so successful that its success unleashes waves of prosperity across a range of sectors including research, tourism, education, advanced manufacturing, logistics and residential development.
We must develop an aerotropolis.
And at the same time, we must ensure the airport is developed to world’s best practice in terms of environmental impact and that the impact on residents in its vicinity is minimised.
None of this will be easy.
But if we get it right, the possibilities are substantial.
THE CASE FOR BADGERYS
The case for the construction of the Western Sydney Airport has been established beyond doubt.
We know that Kingsford Smith Airport is near full capacity.
According to the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, the Western Sydney Airport is expected to handle five million passengers in its first year of operation, rising to 10 million passengers a year within five years, 37 million a year by 2050 and 82 million a year by 2063.
It is also estimated that if we fail to build the airport, the NSW economy will lose $17.5 billion a year in gross state product by 2060.
In the process, we would forgo the creation of 57,000 jobs in NSW and nearly 78,000 nationally by 2060.
When I was younger, air travel was the province of the rich.
Working people travelled by air only to attend weddings or funerals, or to do their one off backpacking trip to Europe, the USA or Asia.
But in the 21st century, relatively low airfares and increasing disposable incomes have combined to drive huge demand for air travel.
In 1988 I saved up for the big trip to Europe.
The airfare was $1900 return to London with Qantas. Today, almost three decades later, it is possible to get a cheaper fare.
If only house prices had a similar story.
Patronage nationally is expected to double in the next two decades. Then double again by 2060.
Today, national sporting codes are thriving as a direct result of the reduction in the cost of air travel.
Western Sydney is home to 2.2 million people or almost 10% of Australia’s population. This will grow to over 3 million by the 2030’s.
Without a Western Sydney Airport, residents will continue to have to travel to Kingsford Smith Airport for their aviation needs, clogging roads that are already heavily congested, particularly around peak hours.
It can take longer for commuters to get to Mascot than they spend in the air travelling to Melbourne or Brisbane – and the taxi fare can be more than the airfare.
Anyone who has cause to use the existing airport would know it is already frequently subject to gridlock.
That’s bad for commuters and bad for the economy.
The case for the Airport is further strengthened by the research into its anticipated effects on the economy of Western Sydney.
It will create 11,000 construction jobs in the building stage. There will be 9000 direct jobs associated with the completed airport, plus thousands of indirect jobs to be created in the region.
In terms of enhancing aviation and giving Western Sydney a significant economic injection, this project is vital.
Often, public consultation about major projects goes no further than addressing contentious issues like noise and traffic.
While we must understand and engage with community concern on these issues, the employment opportunities at Badgerys Creek also demand genuine and intense community engagement.
The conversation must begin now about how we can ensure that as many of the new jobs as possible can be filled by people from Western Sydney.
It’s not just jobs building the airport; it’s jobs building the associated road and rail infrastructure and then it’s ongoing jobs created by the airport as a catalyst.
Some of those jobs are underway with the associated road construction. Others are some time off when skills and apprenticeships will look different from today’s training and employment pathways.
These jobs should have a training component which provide transferable skills for local young people and re-skilling opportunities for mature age workers.
We need to collaborate on a jobs and skills plan that provides a skilled workforce capable of contributing on this and future projects.
This effort should engage the entire community including councils, business groups, schools and universities, TAFE, unions and others.
For example, we know that during the construction stage, there will be strong demand for builders, electricians and the full range of tradespeople required to deliver such a large project.
We need to act now to consider how we can maximise access to these jobs for people from Western Sydney.
The project should result in hundreds of young people from Western Sydney being engaged on the construction site as apprentices, learning the skills that will set them up for long-term careers.
At his speech at the National Press Club Labor Leader Bill Shorten pointed the way, committing a future Labor Government to ensuring 10 per cent of the workforce on Commonwealth-funded infrastructure projects should be apprentices.
The Western Sydney Airport is the perfect opportunity to apply this principle.
We need to think now about the extent to which schools and TAFEs in Western Sydney are equipped to prepare today’s young people for the apprenticeship opportunities that beckon.
Likewise, we must think now about what industries have potential to flourish once the airport begins operations and the skills required to ensure their long-term profitability and competitiveness.
Given the changing nature of work, we must ask ourselves what skills will be required to fill those jobs.
We must collaborate with TAFE colleges and the University of Western Sydney to encourage them to focus more heavily on those skills.
I want to see the establishment of a Centre for Aviation Excellence near the airport.
It could involve government and private sector investment in innovation and skills development. Science, technology, engineering and maths should be integrated into the centre, including into the apprenticeships of the future.
That’s just one idea.
But it’s a reminder of the core proposition that must be our guiding light over the next two decades.
We are not just building an airport, but building a better future for Western Sydney.
I see many people here today who are already thinking in this direction.
On Tuesday I spent time with western suburbs-based company Celestino and Penrith Mayor John Thain and his team to discuss the 2500 hectare Sydney Science Park in Luddenham just north of the Airport site.
This is an exciting development which is encouraged by the Airport that will provide 12,000 jobs for the region.
It is a visionary project as a centre for innovation, education and research that will also have 3400 dwellings on site.
It goes beyond the concept of simply providing jobs, to being a whole-of-community-approach that will be productive, liveable and sustainable.
It will encompass the smartest buildings in Australia with the highest green star rating possible.
A deal has already been done with Catholic education to provide for Australia’s first K-12 STEM school in the country, which will accommodate 2000 students.
This is exactly the sort of project that exemplifies the multitude of business opportunities associated with the Airport.
Given that 300,000 people commute away from Western Sydney for work and the youth of Western Sydney have aspirations to live and work locally, the Sydney Science Park is precisely the sort of development driven by rail access and the airport that will shift economic activity and employment closer to where people live.
GETTING IT DONE
Delivering the Western Sydney Airport project has been needlessly complicated by the former Howard Government’s decision to give the Sydney Airports Corporation the first right of refusal over construction and operation of the airport.
This was part of the deal to lease Kingsford Smith Airport.
It was not a part of the original consideration, and it is up to others to justify this provision.
Nonetheless, the current Coalition Government is delivering on its contractual obligation to negotiate with SACL, as it should.
This is a commercial negotiation.
Having been involved in commercial negotiations while in government, I know it will be unhelpful for me to provide commentary on what should happen at this point.
Instead, let me be crystal clear.
Federal Labor strongly supports the Government securing maximum public benefit on price, design and operating parameters.
I note that the Government said in December that SACL had four months to decide whether to exercise its option over this project.
I urge the Government to press on and resolve this matter as soon as possible.
If SACL chooses not to exercise its option, Labor would support the Government pursuing other options, such as forming a company to build the airport itself.
That company could later be sold to a private operator.
This model is similar to that is being used to deliver the Moorebank Intermodal project established by the former Labor Government.
AN AEROTROPOLIS NEEDS RAIL
While Federal Labor supports the development of the new airport, bipartisanship should not preclude differences of opinion, particularly on planning issues that are critical to the airport’s success.
Labor welcomes the Government’s 2014 decision to begin upgrading roads around the site.
However, I cannot, for the life of me, understand why the Government is unwilling to guarantee the airport will be connected to Sydney passenger rail network from the day it opens.
On current planning, construction of the Western Sydney Airport would include provision for the retrofitting of a passenger rail link at some unspecified time in the future.
We’ve heard vague plans about a rail connection, but no details or firm commitments.
That’s not good enough.
This lack of resolve threatens to limit the potential of the project.
If we expect people to use this airport, it should be accessible by public transport.
But there are strong economic reasons for a rail link.
It would allow us to maximise opportunities to access value capture to help pay for construction.
The airport operator will have an opportunity to develop a world-class piece of infrastructure.
Frankly even if the Airport was not being built, north-south connections for Western Sydney make sense.
The station to the north of the Airport would be located at the Science Park I have mentioned.
If the Airport is connected to rail from day one, the benefit of that connection can be reflected in the operator’s lease negotiations with other businesses.
There is no time for delay.
We need to commit to rail now, so that these economic benefits are factored into negotiations at the earliest possible stage.
The most obvious option of a rail link is an extension of the existing passenger line from Leppington through to the western line near St Marys via Badgerys Creek.
This would allow passengers as well as workers at the airport and associated businesses easier access and complete a loop line around Sydney, improving public transport services throughout the region.
Indeed, completion of the loop would be necessary even without the development of the airport.
The existence of the rail link would also increase land values of the nearby state-owned employment lands.
We’ve heard a lot of talk about value capture recently.
But there have been few examples of its utilisation.
The Western Sydney Airport looms as a perfect candidate.
It simple. The amount of value captured – and the benefit to the public purse and the quality of the project – will be higher with a rail connection than without one.
Beyond the contractual implications that come with a rail connection, the experts tell us that the development of an aerotropolis is all but impossible without public transport.
John Kasarda is the Director of the Business School at the University of North Carolina.
In some circles he is known as the Father of the Aerotropolis because of his extensive work in the economics of airport development.
In a report published for the NSW Business Council published in 2015, Dr Kasarda insisted that the success of an aerotropolis depended on good surface transport.
Dr Kasarda describes surface transport as the “the skeleton’’ upon which muscle can attach and grow around airports.
He also links the quality of surface transport to the willingness of private sector to invest, noting that airports which successfully minimise last-mile costs are more attractive to investors looking to minimise risk.
Similarly, a report by David Klingberg, the CEO of David Lock Associates, also describes improved rail capacity as critical to the development of the aerotropolis model.
Mr Klingberg points out that the lack of a rail connection to the Western Sydney Airport would make it difficult for people to move between it and the Sydney CBD and the existing Kingsford Smith airport.
Mr Klingberg’s advice is simple: “It needs to be done once – and done properly’’.
Building a Western Sydney Airport that is ready for connection to rail some time far off into the future will limit the success of this important project.
It will limit job creation.
Western Sydney needs a world-class airport – not a second-rate facility that fails to realise its potential because governments lacked the vision to invest in the infrastructure required to support its growth.
While there is substantial road construction taking place associated with the Airport, there is a need to plan for future economic growth.
The construction of the M9 or outer ring road has been identified by planners as necessary infrastructure for Western Sydney.
It would connect the region directly with the Central Coast and Illawarra and allow for productivity benefits by being located outside the existing M7 motorway.
Infrastructure Australia identified its importance as a national project.
The planning and pre-construction work should be progressed in the 2017 Budget.
Thanks to the vision of the Hawke Labor Government in securing the Badgerys Creek site in 1986 and limiting surrounding development, the airport will be located well away from residential development.
However, aircraft still make noise.
It is important we engage very closely with surrounding communities to develop a world-class noise mitigation plan, including the creation of a night time no-fly zone.
Last year, Bill Shorten and I announced Labor’s plan for a no-fly zone between 11pm and 6am.
It will be possible to ensure simultaneous operations for take offs and landings to the south-west of the runway, stopping flights over residential communities at night.
I’m pleased to say the Government, after initially rejecting this idea, has embraced it.
That’s another example of bi-partisanship in the public interest. This project is simply too important to be compromised by political posturing.
We can also reduce noise through innovative design.
In 2003 sound engineers at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport noticed a significant reduction in aircraft noise each autumn, when farmers began ploughing their fields.
Convinced the furrows were absorbing noise, the airport hired a landscaper to replicate the effect all year round by digging 150 symmetrical furrows in a nearby 32ha site green belt known as the Buitenschot Land Park.
It looks not unlike the design of a radio or recording studio.
Since the park opened a few years ago, aircraft noise has dropped by half, with noise hitting the furrows and then being bounced toward the sky.
And in a double pay-off for the community, the park has become a popular recreational area, featuring bikeways and walking tracks.
That’s the kind of thinking we need at Badgerys Creek.
We are working with a Greenfields site here. There will be no excuse not to embrace world-class design principles.
Equally, the process of consulting the local community must also be world-class.
Let me leave you today by pointing out a significant challenge related to the airport that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.
Aircraft need aviation fuel. A Boeing 747, for example, requires 12 litres of fuel per kilometer travelled.
There are only two possible ways to get aviation fuel to Western Sydney.
One is by using trucks, which will add to traffic congestion. The other is by building a pipeline.
This is a serious issue and it needs to be confronted now, in consultation with the community.
There’s an old saying that if you fail to prepare, you are preparing to fail.
It reminds me of a concept put forward by the US time management expert Alan Lakein, who once wrote:
Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.
In 2017, we owe it to future Australians get the planning right for the Western Sydney Airport.
We have bipartisanship.
We have the vision.
What we need now is the resolve to turn that vision into reality.
Malcom Turnbull has laid bare the fiction behind his claimed enthusiasm for public transport with his pathetic threat to sink WA Labor’s plan to build the much-needed Perth METRONET.
The Prime Minister’s threat to block this badly needed public transport project is a slap in the face for long-suffering Perth commuters who face increased gridlock on the city’s roads.
Instead he insists Commonwealth funding is available only for the Perth Freight Link – a dud toll road through the sensitive Beeliar Wetlands that would stop 3km short of the Fremantle Port.
It was clear in Question Time this week that neither the Prime Minister nor Infrastructure Minister Darren Chester knew that the Freight Link project doesn’t even go to the port.
Mr Turnbull’s hardball tactics expose the hollow nature of his claimed desire to improve public transport.
He needs to stop taking selfies on trains and actually invest in trains.
Infrastructure Australia has warned that without investment now traffic congestion will cost the nation $53 billion a year by 2031.
METRONET will not only improve the quality of life of Perth commuters, but will also unlock productivity gains that will unleash future waves of economic and jobs growth.
The Federal Coalition announced funding for the Perth Freight Link in its 2014 Budget without and planning or cost-benefit analysis and has committed public funding despite the fact it will not even take trucks to the port.
It’s a classic case of not getting the planning right.
Mr Turnbull is now compounding this error by championing this dud project to rescue the flailing Barnett State Government in next month’s WA election.
WA voters should treat his standover tactic with the contempt it deserves.